Dog in Holt team dies; cause unknown

March 10, 2009 

A sled dog in the team of North Pole musher Jeff Holt died between the checkpoints of Rainy Pass and Rohn in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Tuesday, according to race officials.

Holt is a 48-year-old former teacher who entered The Last Great Race not for the competition but for the adventure. He was about the 50th of the 67 teams on the trail when 6-year-old Victor went down and died.

The cause of death is unknown. A necropsy is being performed.

It is the first dog death in the 2009 Iditarod, which usually sees one or two dogs die unexpectedly.

Holt and his wife, Gaynel, runs North Dogs & Dreams Kennel, which they started when one of their children brought home a bunch of puppies no one else wanted. The kennel, according to the Holts, is largely a collection of family pets they started raising to teach their seven children responsibility.

This is Holt's third Iditarod. He finished 59th in 2005 and scratched in 2007. He is being allowed to continue the 2009 race while an investigation into the circumstances of the dog's death is conducted.

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